Week 8: Paul's Smart home diary

Do I really need a connected washing machine?
Week 8: Paul's Smart home diary

As a tech journalist you get to do and see a lot of cool stuff. But there are also things that aren't so much fun. Big brand keynotes at major tech expos sit right at the top of the "I'd rather not" pile.

I'm not talking about the high profile, big budget spectacular launch events afforded to new smartphones. I'm talking about the keynotes that happen on day 2 or 3 of IFA or CES… the ones where company reps get you up to speed on the latest washing machines, fridges and cookers.

These keynotes are great for one thing and one thing only – they are a good time to catch up on our outstanding work from the previous days at the show, allowing us to write up stories on all the exciting new tech we've seen (i.e. not washing machines, fridges and cookers).

But, maybe I should have been paying more attention. Because now I'm in a quandary. The extension is built and Mrs Lamkin and the builders are measuring up for the new kitchen. My input on cabinets, doors and worktops is minimal. But I am getting asked about appliances. The thinking is that, if it plugs in, I'm the authority.

We need a fridge, a cooker, a washing machine, a dryer and a dishwasher. The question is, has the smart kitchen matured past the novelty stage yet? If only I'd have listened more in those early morning keynotes (they are always early morning; it's almost as if Korean and Japanese executives don't care about my hangovers).

I don't want a fridge with a second-rate Android tablet slapped on the front. And I don't want a washing machine that sends a message to my phone to let me know it's done spinning. Those are pointless additions that would offer nothing to my smart home experience.

So, has the smart kitchen evolved beyond this? I've done some catching up, reading various best smart kitchen appliance features, and the short answer is… no. It's all very novelty-heavy still.

Samsung, for example, is making a big noise about its connected kitchen appliances but, if you separate the marketing fluff from the concrete features you're essentially dealing with a flagship fridge (the F-Hub) with a 21.5-inch screen that displays the time, weather, web browsers, shopping lists and connects to Spotify, and a top-of-the-range washing machine (the WW9000) that connects up with a phone app to keep you updated with cycle stats.

These are nice things, sure, but they are hardly game-changing. They aren't really going to make my life any better. And they cost a bomb. You can buy the very best Samsung kitchen appliances, without Wi-Fi connectivity, for a fraction of the price.

It's just not worth it – and it's the same story with the likes of Whirlpool, Bosch and LG – all of whom are jumping headfirst into the IoT revolution with devices that scream "first generation".

So, I'll be giving smart kitchen appliances a miss… for now at least, although I'll be paying more attention in next year's keynotes.

Now read Week 9


Week 1: Planning the ultimate smart home
Week 2: Getting started with home networking
Week 3: Deciphering the matrix
Week 4: Burying Ethernet cables
Week 5: Not much happened
Week 6: Things are heating up
Week 7: What smart home platform to use

What do you think?

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